Is it worth $15 (3D)? No
With 1963's "Blood Feast," director/producer Herschell Gordon Lewis invented the "splatter" genre. "Two Thousand Maniacs!" (1964) and "Color Me Blood Red" (1965) added to his legacy as the "Godfather of Gore." For those who haven't seen those classic films, there might be some shock value in something like Noam Murro's "300: Rise of an Empire." But even then, any effect that this movie's deluge of blood might induce coagulates after the first 200 (digital) gallons.
Director Murro takes situations possessing inherent tension--enemies colluding sexually, armies in the moments before battle, characters maddened by desire for revenge--and somehow, well, bleeds them of all chemistry, depth, and intrigue. When the Persian queen Artemesia promises Xerxes, in one of a thousand "momentous" declarations in the film, that he will be "the god-King of Persia," you sincerely wish that a younger Woody Allen would pop up and say something like "God-King!? THAT'S their best offer!? You're better than that, kid. I think you oughtta, y'know... renegotiate."
Is it worth $10? No
Conor is a thirty-something, good-looking, Irish carpenter who's just returning home from the hospital after a stroke. An American neurologist, Ted (Will Forte, "Nebraska”), who is visiting Ireland finds Conor’s (Edward MacLiam) recovery exceptional, and Conor's wife Vanetia (Maxine Peake) allows the doctor to study him on video as he tries to recuperate further. The energetic, free-spirited woman of the house set's up a room for Dr. Ted. Though there's an inn nearby, this arrangement will save the daily driving and expense.
It will also allow for tensions to build between Vanetia and Ted, especially as Conor's acclimation to life at home progresses slowly.
The most shameful part of United Statues history is brought to light in the harsh, brutal, yet uplifting Best Picture Oscar winner “12 Years A Slave.” The film tells the story of Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery. Director Steve McQueen keeps a tight focus on Solomon, which allows us an unflinching portrait of slavery through his eyes. We feel each disparaging remark and crack of the whip. In one pivotal scene, Solomon is hung by a tree with his toes barely touching the ground. No one helps him, and he is left like that for an entire day. The camera never cuts away from his agony. We watch him struggle for each second to keep his toes on the ground, and the realization that he stayed like that for hours makes it all the more agonizing. It’s a brave move to make an audience endure something so horrendous, and it works. Point well made. Movie well made too. Buy It.
By now, so many movies have been made about Ip Man, the legendary kung fu master who trained Bruce Lee, that I’ve lost count. All I know is that the latest one is called “The Grandmaster.” The film stars Tony Chiu Wai Leung as Ip Man, and is really two tales in one. The first is the story of the north vs. south kung fu rivalry in China in the time before the Sin-Japanese War. Ip Man is chosen to represent the south, and a young woman named Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang) is chosen as her father’s successor to represent the north. Their rivalry is interrupted by the war. Ip Man moves to Hong Kong. A large part of the second half of “The Grandmaster” is taken over by the story of Gong Er, who refuses marriage and vows vengeance on Ma San (Jin Zhang), the ex-protégé who murdered her father.
BoxOfficeMojo is reporting that Liam Neeson still has what it takes to make the big bucks at the theaters. "Non-Stop" took first place with $30 million, and that beats his previous films "Unknown" ($21.9 million) and "The Grey" ($19.7 million). Its A- Cinema Score should help it get near the $80 million mark before it makes bank on home video. The incredibly boring "Son of God" took second place with a surprising $26.5 million. Apparently the religious market is a strong one, and I would expect to see more films like it in the future. Falling to third was "The LEGO Movie" with $21 million, and it has crossed the $200 million mark domestically. Hopping up to fourth was "The Monuments Men" with another $5 million, and it has grossed around $66 million so far. Falling to fifth was "3 Days to Kill," which grossed just $4.9 million, and will disappear from the top five completely before next weekend.
Deadline has learned that Haley Bennett ("Marley and Me") has joined the impressive ensemble film "Fathers and Daughters." She joins previously cast Russell Crowe ("Gladiator"), Aaron Paul (TV's "Breaking Bad"), Amanda Seyfried (the terrible "Les Miserables"), Octavia Spencer ("Halloween 2"), and Diane Kruger ("Troy"). The film is a love story detailing the bond between a father (Crowe) and daughter living in New York. The script moves back and forth between the 1980s where Jake Davis, a famous novelist and widower, struggles with mental illness as he tries to raise his 5-year-old daughter, Katie, and the life of 30-year-old Katie (Seyfried) in present-day Manhattan in which she battles the demons that stem from her troubled childhood. Bennett will play Stacey, a college student who watches over the young Katie. This sounds like an incredible family drama, with a pretty incredible cast, and hopefully it's one more stepping stone to greatness for Aaron Paul.
Thoughts, facts, explanations, and a few stupid comments about this year’s pizza party, err, Academy Awards.
-Left hangin’: “Gravity” won seven awards, but lost Picture to “12 Years A Slave,” which won a total of three.
-Biggest loser of the night: “American Hustle” had ten nominations and won nothing. It doesn’t deserve to be saddled with this infamy.
-Fun fact: Last year Ang Lee won Director for “Life of Pi” and “Argo” won Picture. The last time Director and Picture split in consecutive years was 1951 and ’52. In ’51: George Stevens won Director for “A Place in the Sun” while “An American in Paris” won Picture. In ’52, John Ford won Director for “The Quiet Man” as “The Greatest Show on Earth” won Picture.
-In case you don’t know: Ellen’s running joke to Jonah Hill was in reference to a scene in “The Wolf of Wall Street” in which Hill’s character masturbates publicly.
By critical consensus 2013 was a wonderful year for cinema, with strong selections of mainstream, independent and foreign fare opening throughout the year. And yet, only a paltry 11 films received nominations in the six major Oscar categories discussed here – picture, director, actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress. This accounts for 34 total nominations, suggesting an unexpected lack of disparity between the top of the heap and the hundreds of films released in 2013.The reasons for this are numerous: Deep pocket marketing campaigns earn preferential treatment (i.e. they’ll be watched before others) for select titles, and a condensed screening schedule for voters forces movies with a true “wow” factor to pop out. Add in personal preferences, politics and other factors and you have what the Oscars are every year: A celebration of big name projects and movie stars we’ve already grown to know and love, with only a select few newcomers welcome to the party.
Roll out the red carpet, its Oscar time again! Those of you readers who have been with me for at least a year know why you should still watch the telecast that is not what it once was. The show may no longer be the glamorous, free-flowing presentation of awards to subjective talent that it once was, what with producers limiting speech times (thank you, producers!) and ABC setting a very specific block of time. After all, with the world of DVR, should the telecast go over-time, even by a minute, those poor schlups who elected to watch “The Walking Dead” instead of the “Oscars” because “then I can skip the commercials and all those boring speeches” will miss out on the winner of Best Actor and Best Picture, which ultimately renders the entire telecast pointless.
For that reason, it is important for the wheels to turn at ABC’s very set and controlled pace. Gone are the days when the show could reach a butt-numbing four hours and twenty-three minutes. Likewise, those looking to turn in for an early night will be disappointed that the hour and a half long Academy Awards of 1956 is also something of the past. Three hours. That’s it. Oscarphiles who sat through all the Best Picture nominees endured more viewing time at the hands of Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” then they will to see it probably not win the top prize of the night.
Is it worth $10? No
One of the craftier flourishes in "Non-Stop" comes in the opening, when you see an addled Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) sitting in his car at the airport, pouring whisky into a cup of gas-station coffee. The haggard Bill looks like he could use about three straight days of sleep in his own bed. He's not happy about getting on an airplane and says as much to another passenger. He steps over to the lavatory and takes some items out of his pockets, one of which is a badge that reads "United States Federal Air Marshal." Of course, this delayed reveal ("Wow, that mess of a man is an air marshal!?") is of small interest to anyone who has seen or heard anything about the movie and already knows what Bill does for a living. Still, it's a bit of good filmmaking.
The marshal gets rattled further by the take-off (his least favorite part of flying, he says) but is comforted by Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), a sympathetic, professional-looking woman in the seat next to him. Gin flows into Jen, more whisky into Bill, and everyone is tucked in nicely--until the marshal receives an unexpected text message, the contents of which turn his bad day to worse. Much worse.